Self-Proclaimed Ex-Muslim Terrorists Urge Christian Proselytization
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 07:28:52 PM EST
Three self described ex-Muslim terrorists have, as Bruce Wilson recently reported here, been hitting the American college and Christian Zionist conference circuit -- and even the U.S. Air Force Academy -- with apparently dubious personal stories and a message of Christian evangelism.

Their bizarre presentations and personal stories that don't quite add up, have been receiving increasing scrutiny. Most recently, by The Village Voice, which reported on the strange experiences of 18 New York graduate students who heard them speak at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Excerpts on the flip:

Omar Khalifah, a Columbia student who is studying Asian and Middle Eastern languages and culture, was among more than 200 international students and Air Force cadets who attended the four-day conference. Khalifah, who is from Jordan, says he was shocked and offended by the proselytizing he saw. "We left our study for one week to try to find solutions, not to listen to a person who is speaking as a preacher, as if he is in a church," Khalifah says.

Critics question whether the three speakers--Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem, and Zachariah Anani--really engaged in the terrorist activities they claim. Shoebat says he's a former PLO operative who terrorized Jews, gave his ex-wife "Muslim-style beatings," and planted a bomb in a bank. Saleem, a Christian minister, says he was a PLO child soldier who transported weapons into Israel via underground tunnels. Anani says he's killed at least 223 people and was "almost beheaded" in Lebanon for converting to Christianity.
The three were paid $13,000 to explain the terrorist mind-set at the conference, which was co-sponsored by the American Assembly, a policy forum affiliated with Columbia University. But instead of educating their audience, Khalifah and other grad students say, the speakers denounced Islam and promoted Christianity.

Khalifah and other New Yorkers say they were initially annoyed at the trio's alarmist rhetoric, including claims that jihadist ideology is being taught in 90 percent of American mosques, and the characterization of Islam as an inherently violent religion. But they were truly offended by Shoebat's announcement that converting Muslims to Christianity was a good way to defeat terrorism

We are terrorism experts coming in to talk about terrorism. . . . Christianity worked for us, but that was not the theme of the speech," Shoebat tells the Voice. "It's racist to say a Christian is not allowed to be an expert on terrorism."

But questions about the credibility of the three men's terror claims aren't going away. The New York Times pointed out that the FBI is actively seeking anyone with a history of terrorist activity in the U.S., but the Times called the bureau and confirmed that there were no warrants out for any of them. But even if law enforcement doesn't appear to be taking their claims very seriously, that hasn't kept Shoebat, Saleem, and Anani from being in demand as speakers on CNN and Fox, and at universities and synagogues.

Meanwhile, some of the New York students continue to wonder how it is that the three alleged former terrorists are still at large, without being brought to account for any of their past crimes. "When I was listening to them, the only thing I could think of is, 'Why are they not in jail somewhere? Why are they out?' " says Haider Hamza, a New School student of global security. "I thought it was really inappropriate to bring us halfway around the world to sit down and make us listen to men who [claim to have] killed hundreds of people, and listen to them tell us what is right and wrong."

While some people and reporters see through them, they somehow manage to remain in demand. Dubious characters like these popped up to lend credence to official policy, and to shore up support on the religious right during earlier conflicts in Central America, and elsewhere. If this history is any guide, keeping a sustained focus on how they manipulate the religious right, and seek to influence intellectual communities is well worth the effort.




Display:
appears to be a legitimate organization.  Why would they fund propagandists like these guys?

by Rusty Pipes on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 08:06:46 PM EST
Maybe more will come out about this.

My hunch would be that they did not pick all of the speakers, and deferred to the judgement of their cosponsor.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 10:08:57 AM EST
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